La Jolla News Nuggets: ‘Party Hat,’ West Muirlands project, UCSD COVID study, jazz concerts, more

Jeff Koons' "Party Hat (Orange)" has been installed in the main lobby at UCSD Health’s Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla.
Artist Jeff Koons’ “Party Hat (Orange)” has been installed in the main lobby at UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla.

Party hat sculpture debuts at Jacobs Medical Center

“Party Hat (Orange),” a sculpture by artist Jeff Koons, now occupies the main lobby at UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla.

The large metallic party hat was purchased 15 years ago by longtime university donors Joan and Irwin Jacobs while it was still in production. The work is part of the 150-piece Healing Arts Collection at Jacobs Medical Center and “reflects the transformative power of the healing that happens on the premises, as well as the celebration of new life at the hospital’s Birth Center,” according to UCSD Health.

This is the first version of “Party Hat” to be unveiled after a 25-year production period that began in 1994.

“I am very grateful to Irwin and Joan Jacobs for creating this opportunity for so many people to interact with the work,” Koons said in a statement. “I hope it will bring a sense of optimism and wonder to all who encounter it.”

West Muirlands project cleared to resume after construction violations

A La Jolla project that had been subject to a civil penalty notice for construction violations has resolved its issues with the city of San Diego and been cleared to resume work.

Though a city notice of violation has been issued for construction on property at 1395 W.

“All the code enforcement issues were previously addressed,” said city spokesman Scott Robinson. “The current work is permitted.”

A civil penalty notice was sent to the property owner at 1395 W. Muirlands Drive on July 21, saying the following were observed on the property, which faces Nautilus Street: “construction and demolition without required permits” and “altering the existing drainage pattern, concentrating runoff, increasing the quantity of runoff or increasing the velocity of runoff to adjacent properties without a grading permit and a coastal development permit.”

Required permits and inspections have been completed, allowing work to continue, Robinson said. A hearing on the project is scheduled for the La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 1, online. Learn more at

UCSD looking at origins of COVID-19

Using molecular dating tools and epidemiological simulations, researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine estimate that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was likely circulating undetected for at most two months before the first human cases of COVID-19 were described in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019.

According to study senior author Joel Wertheim, associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the School of Medicine, researchers discovered the virus could have been spreading as early as mid-fall 2019.

SARS-CoV-2 is believed to have jumped from an unknown animal host to humans. Several efforts have tried to identify when the virus first began spreading among humans, based on investigations of early diagnosed cases of COVID-19.

The original strain of SARS-CoV-2 became epidemic, the authors wrote, because it was widely dispersed and thrived in urban areas where transmission was easier.

UCSD grad students poised for rent strike over rising campus housing costs

Ph.D. students, young doctors and pharmacists in training and others looking to attend graduate or professional programs at UC San Diego this fall could suffer sticker shock when they see the new price of housing on campus.

The university is planning a massive rent increase across all its graduate-school housing in October. In many cases, rents for incoming students will be $500 to $1,000 a month higher than current rates. On top of the hike for incoming students, current graduate school residents will see a 3 percent increase in July, something tenants saw last year as well.

Now graduate students are calling for a rent strike starting Thursday, April 1. They say the increases — triggered by the recent construction of more than a half-billion dollars in new living accommodations — are unethical and that the school cares more about wealth and prestige than middle-class and financially struggling students.

The university said its new rates will be at least 20 percent lower than it would cost to rent an apartment in the wider San Diego region and will remain below the University of California average. A two-bedroom apartment for graduate students on campus currently goes for roughly $1,250 to $1,850, depending on size and amenities. Rents usually include the cost of water, trash, gas, parking, internet and sometimes electricity. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

La Jolla Music Society sets three courtyard jazz concerts

The La Jolla Music Society has announced plans to host a three-part public outdoor jazz concert series in its Wu Tsai Courtyard at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla beginning Saturday, April 24.

The concerts add to the outdoor chamber music concerts the organization announced recently for the same site.

The jazz performances will be at 5 and 8 p.m. and cost $70 to $80 (including a $10 beverage voucher).

The lineup consists of Christian Sands on April 24, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio on June 11 and Pedrito Martinez on June 24.

For more information, visit or call (858) 459-3728.

Late La Jolla artist inducted into S.D. County Women’s Hall of Fame

Niki de Saint Phalle, a renowned French-born sculptor who moved to La Jolla in 1993 and died here in May 2002 at age 71, was inducted March 21 into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame.

Late artist and La Jolla resident Niki de Saint Phalle has been inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame.

Six honorees in all were chosen by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee from hundreds of nominations submitted by the public.

Saint Phalle was this year’s Spirit of the Hall of Fame inductee for such signature San Diego works as UC San Diego’s “Sun God” and “Queen Califia’s Magical Circle” in Escondido.

The other inductees were lesbian activist Susan Jester, lawyer and social-justice advocate Geneviéve Jones-Wright, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp, Union of Pan Asian Communities President and Chief Executive Margaret Iwanaga Penrose, and author and historical researcher Rosalie Schwartz.

Preuss School student takes second place in Countywide Spelling Bee

After three spell-off rounds, Aron Ekubaselase, a student at The Preuss School on the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla, earned second place in the virtual San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee on March 17. The winner was Christian Antonio of Spring Valley.

The competition is open to students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades in public or private schools with a combined enrollment of 30 or more.

Instead of an in-person contest, the spelling bee was held virtually, with 37 middle school contestants competing on Zoom for the county championship and a chance to vie for the national title.

S.D. Library collecting ‘photo journal’ of pandemic life

When one thinks of the pandemic, images of masked faces and seeing friends from six feet away tend to come to mind. The San Diego Public Library plans to collect such memories from local residents in an upcoming exhibit called “Snapshot: A Photo Journal of Life During the Pandemic.”

The photos can show the practical side of life, such as social distancing, telecommuting or remote learning, or may be images that capture strength, humor and hope, according to the library.

Submissions are limited to 10 images per person, and the deadline is June 30. Each submission should include a description of up to 200 words with the photo. For more information, visit

Photos also can be mailed to SDPL Special Collections, Attn.: Snapshot, 330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA, 92101.

Jewish Community Center offers pickleball clinics

The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center Jacobs Family Campus in La Jolla is offering pickleball clinics.
The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center Jacobs Family Campus in La Jolla is offering pickleball clinics open to the public.

The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center Jacobs Family Campus in La Jolla is offering beginning and intermediate pickleball clinics open to the public.

Pickleball is a mix of tennis, badminton and ping pong that has been growing in popularity.

An adult beginners clinic will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday, April 18.

An intermediate clinic will be offered from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday, April 25.

Instructors are advanced pickleball players, as well as experienced coaches and teachers. Beginning and intermediate clinics are $24 per session ($20 for JCC members). The campus is at 4126 Executive Drive. For more information, visit

COVID-19 protocols are in effect, including temperature checks and symptom surveys, facial coverings and social distancing. Players are asked to bring their own pickleball paddle.

La Jollans grant $100,000 to Community Scholars Initiative

La Jolla residents and philanthropists David and Annie Malcolm gave the San Diego Foundation $100,000 for its Community Scholars Initiative. The donation will help 38 first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students with college scholarships and other services intended to bolster academic achievement.

“We are proud to support the Community Scholars Initiative and help dozens of students on their pathway to a diploma,” David Malcolm said.

Students who applied for scholarships during the application period ending in February will be eligible for the funds. Scholarship award recipients will be announced this summer.

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff